Steering committee

A new bumper sticker helps drivers be responsible for each other.

By BARRY NEWMAN
December 8, 2005 10:54
4 minute read.
bumper sticker 88

bumper sticker 88. (photo credit: )

 
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You've probably noticed more trucks and cars bearing stickers that ask "Eich Ani Noheg?" (How's My Driving?). Here's the background: It's a scenario that takes place on an almost daily basis. The driver of a car bearing the logo of, say, Coca-Cola suddenly cuts in front of you, neither signaling his intent nor waving an apology for very nearly causing an accident. You ruefully shake your head, muttering under your breath that somebody ought to tell the big shots over at Coke that they've given the use of a vehicle to an absolute maniac. Well, guess what? Very soon you'll be able to do precisely that. A company car is a perk that many Israeli companies routinely provide their employees. Until recently, it's been more or less ignored that drivers tend to be somewhat less cautious when someone else is picking up the tab for insurance, towing and repairs. A detailed study would prove, I suspect, that company-issued vehicles play a statistically significant role in both serious and minor accidents, one that not only results in the needless loss of life and injury but imposes a major financial burden on small and large companies alike. The Ministry of Transportation has apparently taken note of this trend, and has responded positively. Its Regulation No. 6, issued in April, requires company vehicles to bear a sticker that in essence asks "How's My Driving?" with a prominently displayed telephone number for reporting driving violations or recklessness on a 24/7 basis. Trucks and buses have been seen with this sticker for the past half year or so, but cars belonging to hi-tech, insurance and import companies are gradually beginning to comply with this very sound regulation. The idea is not novel. It's been in use for some time in other countries concerned over the steadily increasing number of driving-related accidents and fatalities - and has been proven effective in lessening the number of accidents and related costs involving company-owned or leased vehicles. Oddly, though, in countries like the US, Canada and France, such programs are voluntary. Israel is setting a precedent by making "How's My Driving?" stickers mandatory on corporate vehicles. Not that too many companies will require their arms twisted, particularly with corporate image becoming a factor that Israeli firms are becoming increasingly concerned about. Company vehicles are essentially mobile billboards, and the behavior of those behind the wheel says something about the company they work for. The stickers provide a way for other motorists - and potential customers - to report incidents such as reckless overtaking, illegal U-turns and unnecessarily close tailgating. Some people have pointed out the inherent danger that this program introduces. After all, a motorist should hardly be expected to grab a piece of paper and jot down a telephone or license number while driving, nor should there be an exception made to using a cell phone while driving, even if it is to report an incident of recklessness. Vanity numbers - those that are easy to remember - is the obvious answer. 1-800-REPORTS is an example. And usually the last three numbers of a license plate is all a company needs to track down the employee it issued the vehicle to. What needs to be emphasized, however, is that this program is not intended to be punitive but corrective. Reports are sent to the offending driver's company, not to the police, with the objective of informing the company of a problem that needs to be taken care of. There is an additional deterrent factor worth noting. Drivers knowing that errant behavior may be reported to their company just might think twice before doing something they would otherwise feel confident about getting away with. The possibility of being deprived of this very precious perk can be a powerful incentive for safer, more responsible driving. Why, though, stop here? The number of new, teenage drivers killed or seriously injured on our roads is alarming. It is high time parents got their heads out of the sand and started doing something about it. Driving instruction, even when administered by someone licensed and experienced, cannot really teach youngsters how to safely operate an automobile. This can be achieved only through experience and parental involvement. Studies in the US and Canada have shown a marked decrease in road-related incidents when parents take an active role in their teenagers' driving. A "How's My Driving?" sticker on a car that a new driver is likely to be operating provides an easy way to obtain potentially life-saving feedback about how a new driver is doing behind the wheel. Utilizing this information, concerned parents can work constructively with their kids to correct poor driving skills and to reinforce safe driving behavior. Hardly a day goes by that some horrific accident does not occur on our roads, and with it a lot of cabbage is chewed over what to do about it. The "How's My Driving?" sticker is a way to make us all responsible for bringing a measure of sanity to the streets and highways, one that should be encouraged and supported. For more information, visit: www.anashimbeadom.org.il



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